One of the blogs in my blogroll (Baby Rabies) had a post today about a letter from her future self she wish she could've sent to herself as a first time Mom. I think that as we go on in motherhood we learn many lessons we wish we would've known - and since we obviously can't go back and redo things, that's why so many moms feel the need to impart their knowledge on other moms . . . I had women offering me advice while I was pregnant with Evan . . . and I had the girls with me so it was clear I was not a first time mom!
Anyway, I guess I have things that now, as a third time Mom and a wise 30 year old, I wish I had known . . . so I want to pen them for my girls, in case I forget to tell them 20 years from now . . .
- Bananas constipate babies . . . I learned this after 8 hours of screaming from Marlie and a phone call to my Mother in which she simply said "You didn't know that" - hence why I am writing this list for my girls!
- Pureed carrots stain like a #@$%#@$@$
- Bibs are made for a reason - see previous bullet point - but at some point it's just easier to either remove clothing or wash it . . . unless it's pureed carrots :)
- Stare at your baby and hold them . . . they won't look like this for long, whatever their age, and you will want to remember how sweet they looked as a baby . . . because when they are 5 and develop an attitude you will have a visual image of them as a peaceful baby while you take your deep breath and explain for the 9th time that day that you are not going to Chuck E Cheese and you don't care that they have the money to pay for it . . .
- To contradict the previous bullet point . . . put your child down . . . they do not need to be held every second . . . or picked up at the first "wah" that comes from their mouth . . . you will lose your sanity if you try to . . . and it will be impossible to do it for baby #2 and baby #3
- Use a baby carrier - because even though your good sense tells you to follow the direction to put your baby down, sometimes you just can't, and that sometimes will inevitably be when dinner needs to be cooked for the rest of the family . . .
- To expand on fussiness when dinner needs to be cooked and use of said baby carrier, you should know that between the hours of 4:30pm-6:30pm all children LOSE THEIR FREAKING MINDS. It is jokingly called "arsenic hour" . . . it's not a joke . . . they name that time period after a rat poison for a reason . . . I just haven't figured out if the reason is because children act like rats having seizures after they consume the poison, or if it's because every mother wants to poison herself during that time . . . I think it's possibly a combination of both, it just probably depends on the day.
- Be confident in your choices as a Mom . . . but be open to some advice (even when it's annoying) . . . and don't be so confident that you look down on other moms - because you don't know their circumstances and you could be that Mom yelling at your child in public one day and you will only feel worse knowing you looked down on someone else for doing it once . . .
- And as for looking down on or criticizing other mothers . . . rest assured that any phrase you start with "Well I would never (fill in the blank)" before you become a mother, there is a 99% chance that yes, you will (fill in the blank).
- Teach your children independence and freedom of choice - it will help them develop their personalities and own sense of self . . . but never forget, you are the parent - which means you make the rules and the final decisions . . . and one day you will - without fail - be unable to aptly justify one of those rules, or simply be so tired of your own voice that you cannot muster anything else, and you will say the phrase that made you red with anger as a child . . . "because I said so, that's why" . . . cringe . . . and it will be okay . . .
- And while you want to foster the independence mentioned above, there is no 2 year old in the world with a palate developed enough to only "like" one food . . . you are the parent, you determine the menu . . . no child has ever starved themselves willingly . . . so if there is no allergy, you eat what the family is eating or you don't eat . . . and I do not live on chicken nuggets!
- Dirt is good for you sometimes. I cannot imagine what it will be like 20 years from now, but with the age of hand sanitizers and germaphobia, it is important to know that some dirt is okay. I am all for good hygeine and handwashing, but don't obsess over it. I am usually the only Mom at the playground that doesn't make my kids use hand sanitizer in between playing and eating. I never did it as a child, and I don't think that many new playground diseases have developed since the 80s, so get over it . . . but do try to apply the "5 second" rule only at home and at minimum in public (because there will be a time when it is just damn worth it to let the child have the Starburst off the floor rather than deal with the wrath of the alternative . . . you will probably also judge a mother for doing this one day, and then find yourself in the same spot!)
At the end of the day . . . the most important things to know as a mother are the 2 things I learned from my mother 1. Trust your gut (even above doctors) and 2. You can never be a perfect Mom, but if you do your best in any given moment, then you are a great mother. This one is tough to remember, but so true. If feeding your kids Chef Boyardee Ravioli for dinner one night buys you the 30 minutes you wouldn't have had if you had cooked the healthy alternative, and that 3o minutes gives you time to go to the bathroom, fold some laundry, and stare at your baby - then you made the best possible decision at that moment . . . and you are a great mother . . . and now I have to get back to the important matters in my life and google about dogs and mouthwash!